Norwich City’s Under-23s were beaten 2-1 by Aston Villa at Carrow Road in Premier League Two Division Two.
Callum O’Hare gave Villa the lead early on but Tristan Abrahams got City back into the match midway through the first half with a terrific finish.
However, Harry McKirdy broke clear in the second half to seal the points for the visitors.
Matt Gill welcomed Paul Jones and Marcel Franke to his starting eleven with Russell Martin smaking his second successive U23s appearance – Alex Pritchard was not risked for the game after feeling a sore neck in the aftermath of his first team comeback on Saturday. Elsewhere, Todd Cantwell came back into the side replacing the injured Glenn Middleton.
Conceding early has been the U23s’ Achilles heel over recent matches and they found themselves behind yet again in a game after seven minutes. A deep cross found Jake Doyle-Hayes at the back post and he cushioned the ball across the face of goal to find O'Hare who tapped into an empty net.
Moments later, Villa went close to doubling their lead. A City free-kick was cleared and the visitors broke at pace, resulting in McKirdy hitting the post with a deflected effort.
However, City managed to get themselves level on 23 minutes. Persistence paid off for Max Aarons on the right as he beat his man and crossed to find Abrahams who arrowed the ball into the top corner.
Within ten minutes of the restart, Villa had a good chance to regain the lead. A curling effort from O’Hare was well saved by Jones and the City stopper did brilliantly to save the rebound strike by Jordan Cox.
The visitors then went close again on 70 minutes. An out-swinging free-kick from Jack Clarke was met by James Finnerty at the back post but he could only guide his header against the side netting.
Four minutes later, Villa managed to regain the lead. A lapse in concentration in the City defence allowed McKirdy to break clear and slot past Jones.
McKirdy could have added a second of his own with minutes to play when he forced Jones into a good save low to his left but it didn’t matter as Villa held on for the win.